Definition of clavichord in English:



  • A small rectangular keyboard instrument with a soft tone, used especially in private homes from the early 15th to early 19th centuries.

    • ‘He would be taught the horn, the clavichord, and the violin.’
    • ‘Technically, piano-playing began to shift from the digital emphasis growing out of light-actioned clavichords and harpsichords to working with the strength and flexibility of full arms and even back.’
    • ‘Your husband must be loaded (as well as bonkers) in order to be able to afford to stable four pianos, two pump organs, one harpsichord and a clavichord.’
    • ‘As she rises from a low chair at which she has been playing the clavichord, she disentangles the folds in the capacious dress which emphasises her tiny form.’
    • ‘He does not pretend it is a clavichord or a harpsichord, and the instrument's full ranges of volume, tone, and color are used.’
    • ‘And there were few overdubs; he was surrounded by a grand piano, a clavichord and a Fender Rhodes electric piano, and switched between them on-the-fly, as he did in concert.’
    • ‘It seems, nevertheless, that his ‘organ-like’ extemporisations were called forth by the clavichord, if not actually the organ.’
    • ‘She has also mastered harpsichord and clavichord, conducted, and provided scholarly editions of some of Bach's non-keyboard works.’
    • ‘The album features his baroque improv skills on the clavichord (playing three at once on occasion).’
    • ‘He makes it as living and penetrating as the violin, as responsive and elusive as the clavichord.’
    • ‘He discusses the clavichord in general, with descriptions and photos of the three instruments which he plays.’
    • ‘I longed to make a sound on the glass flute or play a Bach on the clavichord; it seemed an injustice to have such precious instruments locked away behind glass cases, never again to be played.’
    • ‘Mozart's lifetime witnessed the coexistence of four kinds of keyboard instrument: the harpsichord, the clavichord, the fortepiano, and the organ.’
    • ‘Its treatment of the modern piano as a vehicle for Bach reflects older emphases, and praise for the clavichord might be wishful thinking, yet the writing is full of common sense and musicianship.’
    • ‘New instruments that appeared during the early Renaissance, in the second half of the 15th century, included the harpsichord, the clavichord, and the viol and violin families.’
    • ‘In parallel with this I plan to visit museums where there are early keyboard instruments, either harpsichords or clavichords.’
    • ‘These gracefully escalating motifs, delivered on piano, mandolin, clavichord and (most prominently) accordion, are so utterly French that a waft of garlic and stale Gauloises hits you as you peel back the plastic.’
    • ‘These keyboard works were written mainly for the clavichord, an instrument that was on the way out; yet even as he played and wrote increasingly for the piano, he took the earlier instrument to the greatest heights.’
    • ‘They talked together privately and sat together at supper and afterwards he played to her on the clavichord and the lute.’
    • ‘He also loved music and was an accomplished musician playing the flute, harpsichord and clavichord.’


Late Middle English: from medieval Latin clavichordium, from Latin clavis ‘key’ + chorda ‘string’.